Air traffic control due for change

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Although from the ground it appears that there aren’t many planes in the sky at any given time, the reality is quite the opposite. There are literally hundreds to thousands of planes in the sky over North American airspace, especially during busy hours. Air traffic controllers have an incredibly stressful job of managing the amount of traffic coming in to busy airports. The current system is not ideal compared to the technology that is now available.

A new technology using satellite can reduce congestion, fuel consumption and delays. It will allow more flights to be direct instead of using many connecting flights to arrive at the final destination. It will also allow better prediction of weather patterns which is the biggest cause of delays for passengers. Although fully implementing this new technology and completely changing how air traffic works will take several years, we are close to beginning that transition.

According to a Businessweek report (click here to read it), JetBlue Airways will be fitting 35 of its planes with this new satellite technology. They will be conducting tests on it to see how well it works. The government is paying for this test as it is expensive. This is also where the problem lies. The technology is expensive and is unproven. Airlines and airports are reluctant to spend a lot of money on something that is uncertain and this is delaying the implementation of it. The government however, realizes that it is a necessary cost because traffic is expected to increase and carbon dioxide emissions are higher due to the current system.

If the JetBlue test is deemed successful then this can open the door for companies to begin to invest in it. Once this happens then it will be easier for the government to continue to pay for some airports and infrastructure and the future of air travel will be upon us.